By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In this week’s parashah, the Torah tells us exactly who Moshe Rabbeinu’s parents were. It points out that his father was Amram, the leader of the generation, and his mother was Yocheved, an equally righteous woman. It is unusual that in last week’s parashah, the Torah described his father as an anonymous man and his mother as an anonymous woman, both from the tribe of Levi. Why didn’t the Torah name his parents when it first mentions them?
R’ Yehoshua Kalish, shlita, offers an insight on this point and explains that Moshe Rabbeinu became who he was because of his own accomplishments. Only once the Torah established that he was a great person, did it then go back to fill in the background information and let us know that aside from being a great person he was also from an illustrious family. This order was written to stress that the “secret” of his success came from him and not from the fact he came from an illustrious family. This teaches us a tremendous lesson—that greatness isn’t born. It’s not dependent on one’s background, financial status, or social status. Greatness comes from within.
What was the secret of Moshe Rabbeinu’s greatness? In last week’s parashah, when discussing how Moshe grew up, it says, “Vayigdal Moshe, vayeitzei el echav, vaya’ar b’sivlosam,” Moshe grew up and went out to his brothers and saw their suffering. Moshe was in the palace in the lap of luxury. There was nothing pushing him to go out and view the Jewish slaves as his nation and yet Rashi there explains, “Nosson einav v’libo liyhos meitzar aleihem,” he focused his eyes and heart to feel their pain. This was the secret of his greatness. Moshe developed within himself the ability to see the Jewish people as an extension of himself, so much so that he felt their pain. When one sees all Jews as an extension of himself, then one can truly feel the pain and joy of others. This is what makes a person great. R’ Shimon Shkop, in his introduction to Sha’arei Yosher, explains on “v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha” you should love others as yourself, that you are required to see others as “kamocha,” yourself.
The challenge in life is to view others as an extension of yourself. When one views members of his family as an extension of himself, it is much easier to overlook faults and slights, and to act and react with love and kindness. Viewing members of one’s community and all members of the Jewish nation as an extension of oneself is a tremendous tool to promote shalom, peace, and to create achdus, unity, which is pivotal to the survival of the Jewish nation and one that will bring Mashiach, the ultimate redemption.
Let us try to incorporate this technique into our home. The next time we are about to react with anger or frustration at a spouse or child, remember that they are an extension of us. If we ourselves had done this action, how would we react? If we spilled the cola on the white carpet, would we make a whole fuss and yell and bring up all the times we spilled in the last ten years, or would we just wipe it up? If we forgot to pick up the suit from the cleaners or pay the bill, would we rant and rave at ourselves and call ourselves irresponsible and unreliable, or would we just tell ourselves we’ll do better next time?
We can also expand this technique to our “extended family,” the entire Jewish nation. We can use this insight, that they are an extension of ourselves, in dealings with neighbors, coworkers, and members of our shul and community. Then we can overlook the car parked across two parking spots, the one who cuts the line in the bakery, the car pool that was late, the person who sat in our seat or took our aliyah, etc.
When we view others as an extension of ourselves, it’s much easier to react in a kinder, milder fashion to “wrongdoings.” By following the example set for us by Moshe Rabbeinu, we can have a tremendous impact on our family and home and the entire Jewish nation. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.